Oral historian Elaine Eff interviewed Elsie Miller Legum on April 19, 2001
in Baltimore, Maryland as part of the Jewish Womenâs Archive "Weaving Women's Words" project.
Infused with the centrality of family unity from an early age, Elsie Miller Legum was born the fifth of eleven children in 1915 in West Baltimore. At age 17, shortly after graduating from Western High School, Elsie eloped with Sidney Miller. She continued to live at home and date other boys until her "legitimate wedding" was openly celebrated over two years later. For many years, Elsie was kept busy by their four daughters, Phyllis, Carole, Joan and Margie, a large social circle, and volunteer work for many Jewish organizations. After the devastating loss of her husband, Elsie created a new life for herself, becoming the chief buyer for Miller Brothers, her family's women's clothing business. A unique family trust established by her parents ensures extended family presence at Passover seders, Hanukkah celebrations and an annual vacation/reunion. Elsie enjoyed a wonderful marriage to Aubrey Legum for over 20 years and, in the face of recent health challenges, continues to relish time with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
In the early 2000s, the Jewish Women's Archive conducted oral history interviews with 30 Jewish women living in Baltimore and another 30 in Seattle. Born in the early decades of the 20th century, these women lived through decades of political, social, and economic upheaval, as well as dramatic changes in expectations and opportunities for women. Doctors and lawyers, teachers and saleswomen, judges and social workers, homemakers and community volunteers, the narrators represent a wide range of backgrounds, affiliations, and experiences of American Jewish women. To find out more and to see the online exhibits based on this project, visit Jewish Women's Archive/baltimore and Jewish Women's Archive/seattle
The complete audio recordings and transcripts of the interviews are available on the Internet Archive.
This project was made possible in part by major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Brenda Brown Lipitz Rever Foundation, and the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation, Inc. In Baltimore, the project was a collaboration with the Jewish Museum of Maryland; in Seattle, with the Museum of History and Industry.